Throughout the first 10 races of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Bubba Wallace and his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team have had their fair share of struggles. With zero top-10 finishes and a best result of 17th at Martinsville Speedway, Wallace currently ranks 28th in the points. It is safe to say this team needs something good to happen, and it needs to happen soon.
What is wrong with the team? Is it more than just bad luck at times? Is the team not performing or does the driver have anything to do with it?
Meanwhile, defending Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick has had an outstanding season to this point. He added on to his season resumé by scoring the victory at Talladega this past weekend and extending his points lead. This has been a season not too many people expected from Reddick and he has pleasantly been the top contender for the championship so far.
Is it safe to say Reddick is the best driver in the series? Does Christopher Bell still hold that reign? Is it an even split between the two and no advantage can be given?
Q: What do you think is wrong with Bubba Wallace and the No. 43 team right now? Samuel T., Phoenix, AZ
A: It has been very obvious that Wallace is having an extremely tough sophomore season in the Cup Series. Last season, he burst onto the scene quickly with his runner-up finish in the Daytona 500. He followed that up throughout the year with only two more top-10 finishes and no top fives. He wound up 28th in the points standings, which was disappointing after the expectations many had for him.
This year, there were again many people who expected him to have a better season and maybe compete for top-10 finishes some weeks. However, that has not been the case at all throughout the first 10 races of the 2019 campaign. I feel that Talladega is the one race that got away from him, even though he was involved in the wreck very early on. It was his opportunity to have a very good race and it seemed like he had a very fast car as he made his way into the top five quickly. Unfortunately, it did not transpire and his day ended early.
With an average finish of just under 27th and ranking 28th in the points, it’s been a tough year for Wallace once again. He has been vocal about his struggles and how his team has been fighting for sponsorship and money to put into the effort. They say money runs the sport these days and when there’s no money and little sponsorship, it spells bad news. That is what is hurting the No. 43 team at the moment.
I have been impressed by how Wallace has handled adversity throughout the last few seasons. I am one who believes he has the talent to be at the top level of NASCAR, but he needs time. There are many drivers who did not “break out” until their third or fourth season in the series, and Wallace can be one of them.
He has a personality that we need in this sport, which is why so many people like him. He is at a point where every week, something seems to go wrong. In fairness, every driver seems to go through these “dry spells” at some point in their career.
Patience is a key for Wallace. Give him a little time to learn more and more. Once he does, results should improve. Comparing him to drivers like Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney or Erik Jones is not fair because Wallace’s equipment is not comparable to theirs. All three of those listed above are excellent drivers and will have success for many years, but Wallace has the potential to succeed as well.
He will get better throughout this season. He will not stay down where he is for the entire year and he will move up some. I am not saying at all that he will win a race but a few top tens could be possible. He definitely will improve on his best finish of 17th, and maybe with some luck, he can steal a win at a Daytona or Talladega this year. There is hope for the team and him, patience just needs to be a virtue here.
Q: Is Tyler Reddick the best driver in the Xfinity Series right now? Is he better than Christopher Bell? Patrick A., St. Louis, MO
A: At this point in the season, it is definitely a toss-up as to who the best driver is between Bell and Reddick. Both have had very good seasons and both will for sure be competing for a championship once again at year’s end. Reddick is the defending champion, but Bell also has ten career wins in only one full season plus a handful of races.
Bell still takes the reign as the best driver in the series but Reddick has definitely closed that gap this season. Last season, Reddick did not show much after his win at Daytona in the No. 9 for JR Motorsports until the playoffs. Then he became a model of consistency and went on to win the race at Homestead along with the championship. He has come out of the gate strong this season and in the process has become a different, better driver.
Many doubted Reddick’s move from JR Motorsports to Richard Childress Racing over the offseason, thinking this would be a mistake for his career. It turns out those fears may have been misplaced.
He is a very fun driver to watch, similar to how Kyle Larson was when he first came up through the ranks several years back. Reddick still does not have a lot of experience, with only one full-time season under his belt in the Xfinity Series, but he has broken through this year.
To have eight top 10s in the first nine races with one win is definitely impressive. His only finish outside of the top 10 was Las Vegas where he was racing for the within 15 laps to go. His average finish of 4.9 is the best in the series and, as a result, he currently leads the points. Bell has more wins but has not been as consistent as Reddick has.
This is going to be a battle all season long. Reddick is going to get more victories throughout the year, especially once we get into the summer months. He is quickly becoming a break out star of the series, and do not be surprised if he becomes the favorite for earning back-to-back titles.